Liverpool Sound City 2015 review: Belle & Sebastian, Third Stone, Clarence Clarity, The Probes, Gabrielle Papillon

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian

Ending on the highest of Sound City highs, Getintothis’ Emma Walsh rewrites the festival highlights with every other band vying for top spot on the final day.

So this is what they meant by post apocalyptic. Cloudy skies, hungover heads and pools of murky water flooding parts of the bar and main stage. Oddly this feels more like the Sound City we know and love.

Pint in hand we saunter up to the Atlantic Stage with Gaspard Royant in full swing. What a maverick. Clambering over the front rail Royant appeared to be caught short as his last song came to an end, leaving him quite literally on the fense, with nowhere to go. Not one to admit defeat he delivered a Thank You speech of Oscar winning proportions, commandeering the Lindyhoppers to go on tour with him, inviting the audience to the band’s Manchester performance that evening, just short of thanking God, a band member swiftly told him to get on with it and he shuffled back on stage for the final refrain.

Quite the beginning, but our day just got better and better.

Honeyblood left us lovestruck at the Baltic with the duo delivering a healdine worthy rock out in the mid-afternoon. Suggesting a Sunday afternoon Tea Dance to Braidburn Valley, we can’t quite imagine our Nan stepping out to the lyrics “Why won’t you grow up?” but had Honeyblood caught us at a tipsier part of the weekend we certainly would’ve given it a good go.

The Probes were almost a tad boring in comparison with the same old format of 4 white guys on stage looking a bit blase. They sounded alright but it wasn’t exactly blood-pumping stuff and carrying two days of fatigue on our shoulders we needed all the help we could get.

It may not be the high octane buzz we were seeking but New Zealand’s Jesse Will was worth the wait of tuning turmoil. Fool for Gold drew in passers by to fill the Mail Chimp tent, Will enticing Sound Citizens with a voice comfortable at both a purr and a growl. Rolling out his biggest party trick, a cover of Shake it Off that Taylor Swift herself shared with the world online, Will jokes “this is basically why I’m here… Sell out!”

Clarence Clarity brought us back up to speed with a ferocious set at the Baltic, thrashing tambourines off ribcages and filling the warehouse with enough noise to collapse lungs. With every other act we see today soaring straight to the top of our festival highlights we were hard pushed to find room for anyone else up there but allowances had to be made for FINDLAY who had the Cargo tent grooving, singing “I’m so tired” – Sister, we hear ya.

By this point we were itching to get to the Atlantic and stake out the turf for Belle & Sebastian but there was enough time to catch the folky goodness of Gabrielle Papillon who, like us was feeling the chill: “it’s too friggin’ cold – And I’m from Canada!” and Third Stone at the Cavern stage. Treating the Korean Showcase crowd to their rousing blend of psychadelic rock the finished on a traditional Korean song, “one or two thousand years old” about the happiness and joy a full moon can bring. By that description we expected something of the folklore variety – what we got was mind-blowing.

Speaking of mind-blowing, and so to Belle & Sebastian.

Shuffling together for the bodyheat, the crowd errupted as the band took to the stage, greeting the “Costa del Mersey” before diving headlong into a 90 minute set of sheer pop perfection. With Perfect Couples and The Party Line trotted out early, there was a spectacle to be had with Another Sunny Day seeking out a mascara weilding festival goer for the occassion.

Crowd participation was a big thing for Belle & Sebastian – as if they didn’t already have enough bodies on stage. First it was dancing girl Siobhan who volunteered herself for tambourine duties before Stewart Murdoch opened up the stage to the front rows, bringing the sea of dancing bodies up with them. As well as having a bit of a chitchat with the stage invaders and taking time out to revel in a standup routine based entirely on Liverpool and Steven Gerrard‘s dire end to the season. A brave, but winning tactic it seems.

Regaining the stage for their final hurrah the band brought Sound City‘s main stage to a climatic close with The Blues Are Still Blue. It was hard to picture this wondrous dreamscape under a crescent moon as the same apocalyptic wasteland we’d witnessed this morning, it seems Sound City had come full circle. Somehow the end came all too soon, and band seemed to say Au Revoir rather than Goodbye, we bid Belle & Sebastian and the Bramley Moore Dock adieu until next time.

Photos by Getintothis’ Martin Waters, Martin Saleh, Michael Hegarty, Jack Thompson, Tom Adam, Vicky Pea, Chris Flack: